(in the pic - the closing of the 2015 Year of China in South Africa cultural evening). President Jacob Zuma co-chairs the FOCAC Summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping - Sandton, Johannesburg. 04/12/2015, Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

#Focac: Johannesburg - China’s bilateral trade relations with South Africa are set to further flourish, with the former now looking for further import opportunities in the fields of energy, medicine, fruits and wine.

South Africa is China’s biggest trading partner in the African continent and its 20th in the world.

Currently, main exports to China include iron ore, steel, manganese, chrome ore, tobacco, wool, granite, gold, copper, aluminium and motor vehicle spares, while China’s main exports to South Africa include textiles, kidney beans, groundnuts, cotton seed cake, light electronics, capital equipment, paraffin wax and television sets.

China hopes to improve bilateral trade relations between the two countries by increasing their imports from South Africa.

“We are ready to deepen the economic and trade relationship between the two countries. This will include the import of more value-added products from South Africa,” Hou Yi, secretary of the trade and commercial department at the Chinese Embassy of South Africa.

“A buyer mission composed of leading Chinese companies is in South Africa now. They are holding trade talks with their counterparts to find import opportunities in the fields of energy, medicine, fruits, wine, etc.”

Just last week, our exports to China received a boost with the signing of more than 20 co-operation agreements and contracts to the value of $918 million (R13.2 billion), improving the structure of trade.

These agreements and contracts were signed during the China Inward Buying Mission event that took place in Sandton, Joburg, ahead of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (Focac) summit taking place this week.

More than 90 percent of South Africa’s top 10 exports to China are in raw materials while 100 percent of the country’s top 10 imports from China are manufactured products.

China views South Africa as a highly important trade partner, according to the Chinese embassy of South Africa. “China and South Africa are highly complementary economies and the prospect of co-operation is broad,” said Yi.

While the development of bilateral trade has met challenges since 2014, with the downward pressure of both economies and the fluctuation of commodity prices, Yi believes the headwind will not last long and that bilateral tradewill reach a new level.

“In 2014, the trade amount between the two countries exceeded $60bn, which accounts for 27.2 percent of the total.

“Not only Chinese companies but also enterprises from all over the world, especially the famous multinational corporations, invest large sums of money in South Africa.

“They build factories and open financial branches with the eyes on the whole Africa continent, taking South Africa as the gateway to the African market,” Yi concluded.

SATURDAY STAR